The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Rural Political Analysis: Levelling Up Bill returns to House of Commons

As MPs prepare to review the Lords’ amendments to the Levelling Up Bill, RSN Policy Advisor Graham Biggs has been analysing what it will now mean for rural areas.

This week the House of Commons will be discussing the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill as it returns from scrutiny in the House of Lords.

There is one amendment from the House of Lords which is particularly important for rural areas. We hope that MPs representing rural constituencies - cross-party - will support this amendment.

The amendment deals with the “Mission Statements” required by the Act and, if approved would embed rural proofing in them when the first Statement of Levelling Up Missions is made by the Secretary of State, It would require a rural proofing report detailing the ways in which the levelling-up missions have regard to their impact on rural areas and will address the needs of rural communities. As Lord Foster of Bath said in proposing the amendment “That is a pretty simple request, given that it is meant to be government policy anyway”.

The RSN has long argued for meaningful rural proofing to be applied in the development of policies and procedures. The Levelling up legislation is important for both urban and rural, but time and time again we have seen that one-size fits all policies and procedures, more often than not, do not fit the circumstances of rural areas and therefore fail to achieve the same outcomes as may be achieved in more urban places. The amendment should from the outset ensure proper scrutiny of the Levelling Up Missions in the rural context.

The Rural Services Network, using government metrics, has shown that if all rural areas were brought together and treated as a single region, their need for levelling up would be greater than for any other region.

The amendment only applies to the Levelling Up Missions and not wider - but it is an important first step in demonstrating understanding of the issues and opportunities in rural areas in an important area of new legislation.

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